RV For Beginners: A Step by Step Guide for RV newbies [2020 Updated]


rv-for-beginners-newbies-tips

The open road is calling out to you, and you can’t wait to start the RV life that you have always imagined in your dreams.

In your eagerness to get your adventure on the road, you might find yourself making newbie errors that cost you time and money.

Many RV beginners rush off, but if you want to avoid the mistakes that newbies always make, you should take time to consider the advice of some road veterans who learned their lessons the hard way.

The RV life is a trial and error lifestyle until you have the RV life set out in your perfect style. Try and make it more about trial and less about the error.

Be sure of your RV before you buy one, be prepared, make checklists, and work out your budget. Plan well ahead and reserve your sites a couple of months before you set off. 

Here are some of the best tips and tricks to bypass the potholes (and low bridges) that so many RV beginners and newbies encounter on their first RV journey. 

#1) 5 Most Important RV skills to know

Driving an RV is quite different from driving a standard car and may take some getting used to handling.

Most new RV or motorhome drivers find it challenging to cope with fast traffic at first, with other vehicles making rapid lane changes or following behind your RV too closely.

RV skills need to be honed over time, and it is an excellent suggestion to take an RV driving training course to get you familiar with the ins and outs. 

Here are a few skills new RV drivers should take into account:

Know your Tail Swing

When driving your motorhome, the coach behind your vehicle’s pivot point tends to swing out in the opposite direction to your turn.

The longer your motorhome is, the more likely you will encounter tail swing issues on the road. 

Keep your Safe Following Distance

Because you are carrying a heavier load than a standard vehicle, you need to factor in your increased braking distance.

Even though your RV may be equipped with a state of the art braking system, you should allow a safe following distance.

A neat way to calculate your following distance is to use a similar method to the 2-second rule in a standard vehicle.

A general rule of thumb is to add 1 second of following distance for every 10 feet in vehicle length plus 1 second.

So if you have a 20-foot truck and 30-foot trailer, your safe distance would be 6 seconds. Multiply that distance by 4 seconds in heavy rain and 10 in snow.

Know Your RV’s Dimensions

Driving an RV requires that you not only consider what is around you, but you need to know what is above you for safety.

Calculate your RV dimensions in length, width, and height (including AC systems or dishes) carefully.

Look ahead through GPS for low bridges, tight back roads, and dirt roads with potholes. 

Related reading: Does RV Height Include Air Conditioners? (Average RV Height & Regulation)

Right is Right

Keep in the right lane wherever possible. With the increased weight and decreased maneuverability of RVs, you should keep lane changes to a minimum.

Know Your Brake System

A fully loaded motorhome can weigh more than 7,000 lbs weight, and you should consider that when braking.

Know your RVs braking capacity at a variety of speeds before you embark on a long journey.

Keep an eye on your weather app and know when to wait out a storm.

Related reading: What Is The Average Cost To Install Trailer Brake Controller – (Facts & Numbers)

#2) 4 RV Tips for Newbies

Have a Trial Run with a Rental

Before you commit yourself to the expenses involved with buying and maintaining an RV, you should consider a rental first.

Rentals allow you a feel for the process, and you can make a firm decision that way. 

RV tips for newbies
RV Tips for Newbies

You Don’t Need To Break The Bank

You don’t need every add on luxury feature out there to enjoy your RV.

When starting out, keep it simple and build up your luxuries as you go.

As you familiarize yourself with the RV lifestyle and connect with RV enthusiasts, you will also get a better idea of the better add ons and what to expect to pay for them.

Familiarise Yourself with your RV Capacities

Get to know how much your black, grey, and freshwater tanks hold.

In this way, you can ensure that you are adequately equipped for the length of your journey. 

Bring Tools and Spare Parts

Make sure you have a well-equipped tool kit when you embark on a journey. You should consider items like 

  • extra fuses
  • Light bulbs 
  • Jumper cables
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Connectors
  • 4-way wrench

#3) 4 RV Mistakes beginners keep doing (Always!)

There are specific errors RV newbies make consistently and have to learn the hard way not to repeat them.

Here are some common mistakes new RV enthusiasts make so you may avoid them.

Not Creating A travel Checklist

You should always make a checklist before seeing out in your RV. It is not like throwing a two-person tent in the back seat for a camping trip, after all.

You should consider separate lists for setting up your campsite, breaking it down, packing to leave, etc.

Ensure you consult your manual for the checklist you need that is specific to your particular RV. 

The most important checklist is to ensure your RV is ready for the road and the physical checks that everything is appropriately operational.

Read also: Can You Live in an RV Park? Here’s Exactly What To Expect

Keep Your RV on the Level

Don’t fall into the newbie mistake of leaving your RV unlevel, even for a short time.

You never know what might come up, and sometimes you may be caught up in the scenery or a longer hike than anticipated.

Leaving your RV parked off level could seriously damage your fridge, or may give you a false tank reading (you don’t want a surprise on the limit of your black tank!)

Over Packing

In the excitement of the journey, often, RV newbies tend to overload their rig.

Not only does this make the RV uncomfortable and cluttered, but overloading can add excess weight to your trailer/coach and make driving dangerous.

Always consult your manual for GTW to be safe to prevent excess gas consumption and hazardous driving on the open road.

Not planning Your Route and Destination

Driving an RV means that you have a unique set of requirements specific to your vehicle.

You need to plan your route to take these features into accounts such as low bridges, narrow roads, and general conditions that will affect your travel.

Reservations are also crucial as campgrounds can fill up quickly over the season, leaving you nowhere to park your RV.

Read: Tips For NON-Truckers: Are Truck Stops Safe for RV’s to Park Overnight?

#4) 4 Full-Time RV Living Tips

Full-time RV living is a dream many of us share and is a life that is full of discovery and movement so different from our stationary lives.

Despite the dream aspects, there are certain lifestyle changes you should be prepared to deal with on your RV adventure.

You Can’t Take it All With You

To experience the joys of living the nomadic RV lifestyle, you need to start training yourself to make do with less.

You need to ask yourself those tough questions about what you want to take with you and what you need to live comfortably in your motorhome. 

In this consumer culture, it seems to be all about accrual. In your new lifestyle, you need to teach yourself a new mindset of less is more.

Related reading: How to Carry a Motorcycle with a Travel Trailer?

Prepare for the Unexpected

Not every adventure in your RV travels is going to be the good kind.

You need to make sure that you are prepared for what the universe might throw at you to ensure that setbacks don’t become disasters. 

Get your Domicile and Insurance Sorted

There are numerous sets of rules in place that vary from state to state regarding domicile requirements.

Domicile is vital regarding taxes, voting, bank accounts licenses, and vehicle inspections, etc.

Sometimes state regulations are not the most conducive to your new nomadic lifestyle. 

Learning to Live with Less Personal Space

Be prepared to deal with the stresses of living in close physical proximity with your partner, family, or travel companions.

Especially in smaller motorhomes, the confined physical nature of RV living can take its toll psychologically.

Lack of privacy is sometimes an issue when you give up the brick and mortar life for the road. 

#5) How to Choose The Right RV for Beginners?

When planning to buy your RV, there are several factors you need to consider before you make a purchase; you may end up regretting it.

Here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself before you start looking for your RV living dreams.

Related reading: How to Choose the Right Size Travel Trailer: An In-Depth Guide

1)How do you plan to use your RV?

Remote camping in extended tours of national parks would require a different rig to infrequent camping trips.

If you plan to include your family and visitors, you will need to factor in the extra space.

If you plan summer trips to warm climates, your needs will be different to all-year-round camping and potential snowing conditions. 

Read: Do RV Rentals Include Mileage? (Free Unlimited Miles)

2) How many people Will be Sharing the RV?

You don’t only have to take into account bedding and bed facilities for your traveling crew, but you need storage for these individual members as well.

RVing 101
RVing 101

If you plan to accommodate guests, you need to figure it into what size RV will suit your needs.

Read also: Can You Rent an RV If You’re Under 25? [Read This Before]

3) How often Do You Plan To Use Your RV?

The RV style to suit your needs depends heavily on whether you wish to use your RV all year round or just want to use it for infrequent getaways. 

#6) Pre-owned RV Checklist (Buying Tips)

When considering buying a second-hand RV, remember the Latin adage caveat emptor or let the buyer beware.

In your eagerness to achieve your RV nomad dream, you may overlook sure signs that can warn you that your carriage is a pumpkin.

Here are a few beginner tips for spotting an RV lemon:

  • Never buy an RV without seeing it first, however good the deal seems or for whatever reason the seller may concoct for urgency. 
  • Look carefully for any signs of mold, particularly in the corners of the roof or the laminate floor. Pay attention to the bathroom’s caulk and corners, and shine a light in cabinets and closets. Often you will pick up the odor of mold even if it is not immediately noticeable.
  • Go over the ceiling very carefully to inspect for signs of brown spots that might show leakage. Inspect for bowing or sagging spots that evidence leakage. Ceilings may be replaced, but they might also hide concurrent damages in the frame.
  • Do a thorough inspection of the floors, especially where they meet the walls. Again look for brown spots and give a couple of jumps here and there on various spots. Too much give could indicate rot, especially around the kitchen/bathroom areas.
  • Check the awnings are in good working condition because they are costly to replace
  • Check under the exterior trim and inspect the screws. Any rust or corrosion may show that water may have got into the RV.
  • Open and inspect the exterior panels to ensure there is no rot or corrosion around the cutaway or inside.
  • Test the walls for ‘give’ by pushing against them with a fair amount of force; the walls should hold up and not have too much give.
  • Spend some time on the roof and make sure of the seals, focus on skylights and vents, as well as the full RV perimeter. Moldy, crumbly, or blackened caulk could show water damage in the RV. Carefully walk around the roof and check that there are no areas with too much give.
  • Buy from a reputable dealership instead of privately if you are new to the RV life or are not confident in spotting a lemon. 

#7) The 5 Best RVs for Beginners?

Towable RVs are the best beginner options because they are less expensive generally, and you can still maintain the use of your truck or SUV independently of your trailer.

There are also various prices, sizes, and models available to suit your budget and needs.

Folding or Pop Up Trailers

Folding or pop up trailers are lightweight and relatively inexpensive in comparison to other styles of the trailer.

Pop-ups start at about 4 feet tall, their tent-like sides can be raised by hand or electricity, or you may opt for the Aliner or TrailManor with hard sides. 

An example of a pop-up trailer: Jayco Jay Sport Camping Trailer

Travel Trailers

Travel trailers come in various sizes, materials, and designs and are a popular choice among beginners to the RV lifestyle.

Travel Trailer

Most mid-size travel trailers only need an SUV to pull them and have the advantage of being able to disconnect from the vehicle when stored or parked. 

An example of a travel trailer: KZ SPORTSMEN CLASSIC

Airstream Sport Travel Trailer. Image from Airstream. 

Fifth Wheel Trailers

Fifth-wheel trailers are made to be towed by pickup trucks and attached by a hitch to the truck bed.

5th wheel
5th wheel

Because fifth-wheel trailers are larger and heavier than other campers, they require a towing vehicle to handle a heavy payload.

There are smaller fifth-wheel trailers on the market, however, to suit smaller trucks. 

An example of a fifth-wheel trailer: The Crossroads Volante 

Truck campers

Truck campers are versatile and maneuverable and have the bonus of being compact and easy to park.

They slide into a truck bed and stick out over the truck cab for extra space.

Most hard-sided models require heavy-duty trucks or half-ton trucks maximized for heavy payloads, but you can find models for mid-sized trucks as well.

An Example of a Truck camper: Arctic Fox 811

Hybrid or Expandable Trailers

Hybrid trailers deliver the best of both worlds, space without the added length and weight.

The expandable design allows you to extend your living space and still maintain the insulation of hard body siding. Generally, you may use a smaller tow vehicle for this style of trailer.

An example of a hybrid trailer: Sirocco Hybrid camper

#8) RV Renting Vs. RV Buying (Which is Better?)

The decision to rent or buy should rest entirely on your circumstances.

If you plan to travel infrequently, or unsure if the camping life suits you, renting is your option.

If you plan to travel regularly and make your RV part of your lifestyle, then perhaps rental costs might be put to better use for a deposit on your RV.

Here are some pros and cons for you to decide whether either option is correct for your needs.

Related reading: Is RV Rental Worth It? 11 Things To Consider

Advantages of renting an RV

  • You get to find out what makes and models are perfect for you and your travel requirements. So many veteran RV folk say that you should buy your third RV first for a reason. An RV is a significant investment to make if you are still unsure of what works for you and your travel companions and what doesn’t. Although rentals can be expensive, you may save in the long run by not having to sell your (now depreciated) RV to find one more suitable.
  • To get a feel for what you need to bring on the road. Learning what needs to come on your RV trip and what will just in the way takes some time to figure out. You may find that you need more space than you anticipated when you purchase an RV.
  • To get comfortable with RV driving skills. Renting is a good idea to test the waters in RV driving without making first mistakes on a new trailer. You can also decide which driving style suits you best on the open road or if you prefer a trailer separate from your tow vehicle.

Disadvantages of Renting Your  RV

  • Rentals can be costly and reach between $100 and $200 plus dollars a night, plus insurance and other costs such as added mileage and your deposit. 

Advantages of Owning Your RV

  • You save money on high rental charges if you use the RV often
  • You are not limited by mileage or distance
  • You may customize your RV so you and your families particular needs
  • No headaches of the rental process
  • You have equity in the value of your RV 

Disadvantages

  • High storage and maintenance costs
  • Ongoing insurance payments
  • Financing payments.

#9) How to Easily Finance an RV?

If you have decided that the RV life is for you, and you don’t have the kind of cash on hand that you will need to buy an RV, you may consider financing as an option.

RV loans are more difficult to procure than a standard automobile loan and are more like taking out a home mortgage.

Four ways to help you to achieve your dream of an RV you should consider:

  • Improving your credit score can help you get approved for an RV loan. You should aim for between 700 and 750 or above for the best chances for approval and the best interest rate.
  • Save up for your down payment. Most RV loans require at least 10% down to secure a loan. You should aim for 20% to reduce your monthly repayments and ensure better interest rates.
  • Set a budget for your RV to avoid disappointment. Bear in mind the monthly repayments over time and set aside a percentage of your monthly allowance for maintenance, repairs, and storage
  • Ensure you get the best APR (Annual Percentage Rate) when comparing loan offers. APR includes all the hidden costs and extras you will pay over a calendar year. 

Read also: How Much is it to Buy Back a Totaled RV From Insurance?

#10) How Do RV Rentals Work?

RV rentals are a straightforward process, but you should always keep in mind the costs involved and research your rental companies for the best rates. 

  1. Choose your rental company online, enter your location and dates, and choose your RV type through the online search filters.
  2. Take note of mileage costs, amenities and rules, generator charges, and customer reviews.
  3. Choose your RV and pay your refundable deposit to secure the reservation (usually $100 to $500)
  4. Decide on your insurance type add ons such as interior damage (not covered by roadside insurance)
  5. Complete the transaction and prepare for your journey of a lifetime.

Related reading: How Do RV Rentals Work: 7 Expert Tips

 #11) Top 3 Best RV Rentals Companies

If you plan to rent an RV, you should choose a company that is reputable and has a high user rating in its reviews.

The three best RV rental platforms for 2020 are Outdoorsy, Camper travel Bookings, and RVShare:

Outdoorsy with an A+ from the Better Business Bureau, you really can’t top Outdoorsy as your RV rental choice.

Outdoorsy-RV-Rental-Company

Working somewhat like an RV Airbnb, you should consult the detailed customer reviews before deciding on your RV

Camper Travel Bookings is the best RV rental platform if you plan to travel outside of the US or the 45 states that the platform services.

RVshare offers both peer to peer rentals and RV dealership rentals on one platform.

They offer great insurance protection of $1,000,000 in liability and $200,000 in RV value.

Read also: Can you Tow with a Rental RV? (Company Restrictions)

#12) RV Rentals Cost: What Newbies Should Consider

RV rentals vary quite dramatically in price depending on what class of motorhome you intend to use.

The rental price also depends on the age, mileage, make, and model of your chosen RV, so it is best to do your homework.

According to RV class, as a general idea of what you might pay, here is a list of prices.

RV Class10 Years Plus Price/NightNewer Models, Price Per Night
Class A $150-$250$350-$450
Class B$100-$200$200-$350
Class C $100-$200$225-$400
Travel Trailer$50-$125$125-$200
Fifth Wheel $ 60-$150$150-$300

#13) RV Insurance (101 Guide)

The type of RV insurance you should seek depends on many factors such as the class of RV, how often you use it, and whether you live in your RV full time. 

Related reading: Is Good Sam RV Insurance Any Good? An Honest Review[ Updated]

Which Coverage?

RV insurance provides similar coverage that you will find in typical vehicle insurance, including collision, liability, and comprehensive coverage.

You may also opt for additional protection for your belongings, equipment, and attachments such as satellite dishes and awnings. 

Depending on your insurance provider, your coverage may also include:

  • Full replacement cover for RV 3-5 years  old
  • Full cash replacement coverage or stated value coverage
  • Campsite and vacation coverage
  • Towing and roadside assistance coverage
  • Full-time coverage for those who live in their RVs
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Read: Does RV Insurance Cover Water Damage? What You Need To Know

How Much Does it Cost?

Your chosen insurance company will price your insurance rate, and calculation varies from provider to provider.

RV insurance can range from $125 per annum to $25,000 a year, depending on the following factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Driving record
  • Credit score
  • The storage location of your RV
  • The model, make, and age of your RV
  • Vacation or residence use
  • The number of days per year you intend to use your RV, typically 150 days or under, as a calculation point.

Top Three Insurance Companies For Rvs

Good Sam (Top Choice!): Good Sam’s RV insurance coverage has many standard policy coverages to pick from.

On top of this, they also offer some innovative premium insurance options for a very secure level of protection with your RV.

Progressive: Progressive’s affordable rates and excellent customer service has helped it to grow to the fifth-largest insurance company in the world today.  

They also offer plenty of RV-specific options that should cover all of your needs.

Also, if you already have other things that you insure with Progressive, you can save by bundling your other items together.

National General offers excellent discounts on RV insurance and boasts of saving customers an average of $389 a year on insurance cover.

They also provide great customizable insurance packages to suit individual needs.

#14) How RV campgrounds work

RV campgrounds are a great place to meet other nomads such as yourself and to take advantage of being near some gorgeous national parks and other attractions.

You should check some things beforehand to ensure you choose the right site, and the most important is to ensure that your RV will fit.

Read also: Average RV Park Rates: Nationwide Campgrounds Prices per Night

Campsites list their size requirements such as 55’, which means that campers 55’ and under will fit the site.

You should check beforehand that your chosen location offers the amenities you need. RV campgrounds offer the following levels of service:

  • Primitive campgrounds offer little in terms of amenities if any at all. You should not expect electricity, ablution facilities, or water supply.
  • Partial hookup sites typically offer water and electrical hook-ups but no sewer, so you will need to use a dump station for your grey and black water tanks.
  • Full hook up sites offer water, electricity, and sewage facilities and may offer extras like Wifi and cable TV.

#15) How To Choose Campgrounds? (Free and Paid)

You have a wealth of choice when it comes to RV campgrounds in the USA.

It’s up to your preference and budget to decide on where the best site is, and there are some great ways to make this choice more accessible, such as: 

Campendium is a free website that provides you with the available campsites in your intended destination.

The best part is that you may use the filter system to chose according to price, amenities, and distance.

Allstays App costs you $9,99 per month but offers more than just your potential camping site on your route.

The app gives you details such as rests stops, gas stations, and RV dealerships on your route as well as low clearance area notifications.

Hipcamp is another great website with over 285,000 spots to choose from for your RV.

They provide for all kinds of camping requirements and offer an option to receive your site online.

Ultimate Campgrounds offers free access to 32,000 public camping sites, including informal free camping areas.

Related reading: Where Can You Legally Live in an RV? (Incl. 10 Examples)

#16) RV Destinations: 5 Best RV Road Trips in the USA

With the wealth of beauty on hand in the US, it’s hard to isolate the best sites that will appeal to each individual.

Here are a few suggestions of popular routes that have rave reviews from those who have used them.

1. California Loop (2,226 miles)

This 14 destination loop holds striking contrasts in natural beauty. From redwood forests to deserts and breathtaking shorelines, the California loop has it all.

Included among these iconic destinations is :

  • Yosemite national park
  • Death valley
  • Lake Tahoe
  • Grover Hot Springs
  • Prairie Creek Redwoods State park

2. Rocky Mountains (2,826 miles )

Stretching from New Mexico to British Columbia, the rocky mountain route offers a wealth of natural beauty.

The almost 3000-mile route offers highlight such as :

  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Craters of the Moon Idaho
  • National Elk Refuge, Wyoming

3. Route 66 (2,332 miles)

More than a natural route, this iconic route offers nostalgic glimpses of the past and a quirky combination of museums, diners, and roadside attractions.

Stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles, this is a route you have to rake once (or twice) in your lifetime.

4. New England Loop (1,515 miles)

New England loop offers a great diversity of experience from pristine forest, breathtaking seascapes to places of historical significance.

This route is a great all-around tour for a blend of natural wonders and historical and cultural interest.

5. The South Route (5,776 miles)

Discover the historic south in the South route that takes you on a journey of history, natural beauty, and the luxury of beautiful beaches to cool you down from the road.

Map your favorite blues tunes through Nashville and Tennesse and soak in the ambiance of New Orleans on this route.

#17) RV Storage Ideas: 10 Easy Ways to Organize your RV

Space is limited in most RVs, so you need to make full use of the storage space available on hand.

Here are five ways to organize your RV to maximize your space:

  1. Get trailer specific items to fit your trailer instead of items that are made to fit your household.
  2. Make use of divided organizers instead of using drawer space.
  3. Hang items on the inside of your cabinet doors
  4. Make use of your vertical wall space. 
  5. Designate specific areas for your travel items and keep them there 
  6. Install drawers under tables to maximize space
  7. Mount your cleaning supplies such as mops and brooms on your ceiling for added space
  8. Hang a shelf above your kitchen area
  9. Save kitchen space by investing in nesting bowls and spoons.
  10. Purchase a hanging wardrobe. 

#18) How to Organize Your Tools and Spare Parts

There are so many tools and spare parts to take on your RV journey; it can sometimes be a headache to figure out how to store them all.

If you are wondering where to store your tools, repair kits, propane refills, and emergency kits, here are some tips.

1) Build an exterior storage box on the back of your motorhome and above your tow bar to create space for your heavy-duty tools. 

2) Build a toolbox in your RV basement storage by converting a section of your basement into a slide-out toolbox. 

3) Make use of your tow vehicle’s truck bed by installing a designated toolbox for your RV spares and parts.

#19) First trip packing list: What to bring on your RV camping trip

There are so many items to consider when packing for your first road trip; it can become overwhelming.

It is best to divide your packing into categories to make organization easier. You should consider:

Maintenance and safety:

Paperwork:

Insurance papers, Warranty papers, RV registration papers, Personal ID/passport, RV owner manual

Electrics and Battery:

Extension cords, Portable generator, Amp adapters, Voltmeter, Spare fuses, Extra batteries, Battery charger, Jumper cables 

Holding Tanks:

Hose kits, Bucket, Water pressure valve, Tank cleaner

Motor and vehicle parts: 

Wheel blocks, Levelers, Motor oil/fluids, Tire pressure gauge

RV Essentials 

Camping and outdoor :

Tent, Sleeping bags, Camping chairs and tables, Picnic blankest, Beach towels, Hammock, Cooler, Citronella candles, Bug lotion/spray, firewood /kindling, Water bottles

First Aid:

Vitamins, Prescription meds, Painkillers, Antacid, Imodium, Allergy meds, EPI pen, Antibiotic cream, Hydrogen peroxide, Band-aids, Gauze and bandage, Scissors, Thermometer, hot/cold compress

Clothing and personals:

Swimming costume, Sunhats, Rain jackets, Sunglasses, Sandals, Hiking boots

Hobbies:

Entertainment, Sports (fishing rod, binoculars, etc.), Reading material, Games, Camera, Portable TV, Games console, Ac adapter

Sundry essentials: 

Fire extinguisher, Bungee cords, Collapsible shovel, Rope, Duct tape, Superglue, Pocket knife, Flashlights, Toolkit, Rags, Pen and paper

Kitchen Checklist RV:

Eating and serving (cutlery, glassware), Pots and pans (frying pan, skillet pots, and pans), Food preparation tools (knives, tongs, spatula, colander cutting board, etc.), Cleaning tools and soaps ( dishtowels, sponges, paper towels, etc.)

Bed and Bath Checklist:

Linen and laundry (bath towels and cloths, laundry detergent, pegs, etc.), Toiletries (soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.), Bathroom needs (toilet paper, toilet cleaner, toilet spray.

Groceries Checklist:

Beverages, Pantry and Drygoods, Fridge and Freezer, Condiments

Related reading: 13 Things You Need to Wear or Pack While Camping with Your Boyfriend (Advice from a Girl)

#20) 5 Must-have gear for RV beginners

There are so many things to think of to bring with ion your first RV voyage; you should consider these five essential items to bring along.

Dehumidifier

Inside, your RV might get smelly mostly due to moisture build-up and humidity levels.

You should invest in a dehumidifier to keep your RV smelling sweet.

Cord Adapters

Ensure that you carry various voltage adapters for your appliances so that you can use them on your RV power supply. 

Toter Tank

not every campground has a sewer connection for each site, so keep a toter tank to move your tanks to the nearest outlet easily.

Black Tank Chemicals

Black tank chemicals deodorize and break down your waste to keep the air fresh and your tank in operation.

Leveling Blocks

Leveling blocks are essential to keep your RV supported and level on uneven ground.

#21) How to easily Plan your road trip / Hitting the road

If you prepare correctly, your RV trip should be a breeze if you take these steps before you set out on your journey:

  • Make sure your RV is right for your planned route to avoid complications. Playing it by ear won’t find you a place to park your 40’ motorhome on the fly.
  • Make sure your plan is budgeted correctly and consider your food, gas, and campground fees before you set off.
  • Book your campgrounds well in advance because many of the better campgrounds may be booked out months in advance. By booking in advance, you can also ensure that your chosen site has the amenities you require.
  • Plan your route in advance, taking into height restrictions, switchbacks, and steep grades.
  • Calculate a realistic time of arrival to take into account the slower average speed of your RV.

#22) What RV Newbies needs to know about Toilets (Dumping, black tank, etc.)

One of the downsides of living the RV dream is the dreaded black tank system.

Once you get into the routine, you should be fine, but starting out, you should follow these procedures.

1) Protect yourself when cleaning or clearing your black tank by protecting yourself from contamination from the sewerage.

Gloves, shoe covers, and protective glasses are a must for tank cleaning.

2) To dump, you need to be parked outside the sewer outlet at your campsite or dumping station.

You need to connect your sewer hose to the RV and place the end in the outlet.

Related reading: Where to Properly Dump Portable Toilet Waste?

3) Empty your tanks regularly and when they are half full, not completely full.

A full black tank can cause problems, and half tanks are easy to manage.

Using a transparent hose adaptor can help you see when your tank runs clear.

You should then clean your tank out with some spick and span before your emove it.

4) Aim to deep clean your black trank once a week to ensure effective operation and eliminate odors.

Read also: Can I Use My RV Toilet in the Winter or In Cold Weather (Yes, Here Is How)

#23) Setting up RV Solar Power

What is it?

Solar panels for your RV harness sunlight and convert the sunlight into an electric current that feeds into a charge controller.

This controller regulates the current that goes to your battery, which concerts the electricity into Direct Current charge (DC.)

You then use inverters to convert DC to AC, which runs most common appliances.

Read: Do RV Renovations Reduce Resale Value? (8 Tips To Increase Resale Value)

Do You Need It? 

Solar panels are a great way to charge your batteries and provide electrical power in remote locations or an emergency back up.

They are not necessary, but they provide many advantages and save you money by cutting down on generator use and propane and extending your battery life. 

If you plan to live off-grid or travel remote areas, solar panels become more of a necessity than an optional extra.

Solar panels extend your range of travel options to include more remote areas off the beaten path and often more pristine.

Read also: This Is What Happens to Solar Power When Batteries Are Full? – (FACTS)

How much do RV Solar Panels Cost?

Most RV users travel with between one and three 100 watt solar panels, delivering six amps per peak sun hour on an average.

With the wide variety of RVs sizes on the market, each user’s needs will be different between if they are living off-grid or wanting to travel occasionally.

Generally, prices begin at around 500 to 700 dollars for a basic kit, and then the prices rise according to specific requirements.

Some great starter options are: 

Renology Solar power Starter Kit and the WindyNation Complete Solar Charging Kit

#24) How to Stay Connected as RVer? Wifi and Mobile Internet

It is essential to stay connected when you travel in your RV, especially when you plan to live in your RV full-time.

There are three mains ways to stay connected while you explore your RV nomadic lifestyle:

Cellular connection Hotspots

Cellular based communication is the most popular solution for full-time RV folk who often work from their mobile homes.

Hotspot service provides users with internet access wherever they are if their provider has coverage in the area.

You should do your homework before committing to a plan from a service provider.

Campground Wifi

Campground Wifi is perfect for those who enjoy vacationing in their RV and don’t rely on the internet for essential purposes.

Often campgrounds don’t offer Wifi, and when they do, it is a very basic and slow line.

Signal Boosters

Signal boosters can help you gain a good connection from your campground or parking lots by boosting the wifi signal nearest your RV.

This device can enhance weak campground signals and make using the internet more accessible.

Related reading: Do RV Rentals Have WiFi? Your 5 Best Options Explained

#25) RV with Children: Is Roadschooling an Option?

Roadschooling on the road in an RV presents unique challenges that you will need to overcome, but it is quite possible to homeschool on the road.

There are a couple of things you should consider when deciding whether roadschooling is an option for your family:

Is it legal?

While homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, you should ensure you know the states’ variances when planning to homeschool your children.

Some home school laws are relatively relaxed such as Texas and Oklahoma; other states have more rigid rules and require proof of work completed and yearly testing.

Space and homeschooling in an RV 

Finding teaching space in an RV can also be challenging, and often this form of schooling is better suited to larger RVs.

With the advances of digital technology, many online learning portals reduce the space needed for mountains of textbooks and reading material. 

Choosing your Curriculum

There are many options available online for programs and curriculum. Online charter schools have appropriate choices for those families on the road.

You have the option of fixed schedule classes or more flexible options for your road schooling.

Read also: 6 Tips for Keeping Your Baby Warm While Camping (That Actually Work)

#26) Sex In RV: 4 things You Need To Know

It’s not always easy to get romantic when sharing an RV 9with children, especially) You should take a few tips from veteran RVers on overcoming the proximity/intimacy issue.

1. Find a Babysitter

If you have been in camp for a month or two, generally, you will have made friends with other parents in the camp whose kids are a similar age to yours.

You can always ask one of the other parents for a playdate for your kids for an hour or two.

2. Make a Tent Night

As long as your campgrounds are safe, and your children over a certain age can enjoy a tent night near to your camper while you share some adult alone time. 

3. Kid’s Activity Groups

Find a safe community-based children’s activity group in your campground, the local museum, or church group around where you camp.

That way, your children may have supervised fun while you enjoy your own unsupervised activities.

4. Stabilize Your RV

Not only will your children know what you are up to but your neighbors as well if your motorhome is rocking away in full sight. 

#27) Health Insurance: What RV Newcomers Needs to Know

Like your RV insurance, you should consider a health insurance plan covering you on the road if you are planning to RV for more extensive time stretches.

The RVer Insurance Exchange is an excellent place to research which health insurance plan suits your RV lifestyle.

A few options worth looking into are:

Full-time RV Medical Insurance offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACAS) are:

Catastrophic plan for those under 30 years old and is cheaper than most plans

Silver or Bronze plans are a good option if you are over 30 years old and offer an out of pocket maximum of $12,700 per family and $6530 per person.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine is another option for RV full-timers with minimum doctor’s visit needs. You may use the online features for prescriptions or even second opinions on lab results.

Private Health Insurance for Full Time RVers is also an option if they carry ACA compliance. Healthcare.gov has a search tool to find yourself a licensed broker or agent. 

Fixed Indemnity plans do not meet the ACA requirements for minimum essential health insurance, but they offer fixed cash benefits for specific medical expenses, injuries, and illnesses.

They do make an excellent supplement to private insurance and high deductible ACA insurance.

#28) Flying insects in RV – What To Do?

There is nothing worse than having your excellent road trip ruined by creepy crawlies.

To keep the bugs to a minimum beyond the usual lotions and sprays, you should consider:

  • Try ultrasonic pest control that eliminates pests with poison-free ultrasonic waves that are pet friendly and won’t harm your environment.
  • Keep your power cords off the ground as cords are the favorite ladder for bugs to invade your space. Try double-sided tape for your the areas near your power outlet to stop them in their tracks.
  • Ensure you RV has no holes or cracks that the bugs can slip through and use caulk or silicone to keep your space bug free
  • Keep your sinks and drains covered when they are not in use.
  • Install insect screens, especially in mosquito season
  • Make a Diatomaceous earth perimeter around your RV to ward of crawling bugs in a non-toxic, earth-friendly manner.

Related reading: 8 Tips How to Get Rid of Black Flies While Camping (That Actually Work)

#29) RV with Pets: What You Should Consider

Pets are the best companions on the road, and you will find they love it as much as you do once they get used to it.

rv-with-pets
RV With Pets

Traveling with pets has its own challenges, and you may need a few tips to start with your furry friends.

  • Make sure your pet is chipped or is wearing identification on their collar with your contact details.
  • Keep your pet’s veterinary card on hand with information such as vaccinations and a few photos for emergencies. You may also take ownership papers if you have a pedigree pet in case of theft.
  • A temperature monitoring system is a must if you RV in the summer months. Products like the RV PetSafety Temperature Monitor is made specifically to keep your pets safe by sending alerts to up to 5 users when there are temperature extremes in your RV
  • Pets should always be safe when on the road and not allowed to roam free. You may use the crate system if you have space or opt for adjustable seat harnesses.

Read also: Do RV Rentals Allow Pets? (Pet Friendly Companies)

Conclusion

Once you have had a taste of life on the open road, you might just want to keep moving permanently.

Yet even if you just vacation in your RV, you will create a treasure trove of memories and adventures to last you all year round.

Be organized, be safe, and, most of all, be prepared for the unexpected because that is the adventure of the RV Nomad life.

Enjoy your Trip and Remenber to smile!

Check out our favorite Camper Sayings and Funny RV Quotes here.

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Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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